TERRA at Home Market

It started with a wayward Tweet on a Thursday afternoon, in which I heard about Manual Labour Coffee, a mobile espresso bar based in part out of Dundas (and in part out of a vintage Bailey Travel Trailer named Frankie), and shared this finding with M.

M, in turn, tracked down their website, quickly fell into admiration, and shared with me that they would be part of the TERRA at Home Market that Saturday in Burlington. And thus, a road trip was born.

The premise behind this winter market is a little magical, not least to me; I make the joke with a wistful smile that I must have been a plant in a past life, as I operate a thousand times better when it’s sunny outside or when surrounded by green, growing things.

So, this greenhouse just outside of Burlington made the perfect escape for us from the grey skies and cold last weekend. Stepping in, it’s easy to be distracted by tall palms, stunning orchids, and hardy cacti, but if you wind past the pots of hyacinths and callas, you’ll find yourself in the market, lured instead by the sweet-salty smell of kettle corn (be sure to sample the cinnamon variant!) or the precise fire of a blue-flame torch over creme brulee cheesecakes.

We visited most of the stalls, coming away with everything from organic rutabagas to Hario coffee drippers. Meanwhile, M was in coffee heaven as he talked preparation methods and bean origins with the friendly and extremely knowledgeable team at Manual Labour. Even though coffee levels me with headaches and jitters, I walked away with a dark chocolate and chipotle cookie, which was glorious: smoky-bittersweet, chewy, and the best kind of unusual.

We entrusted our growling stomachs to the naked sprout, splitting the kale salad and sweet potato & parsnip soup. (It tasted great, and has to be at least some positive food karma for the mix of superfoods and veggies therein.) Kale has always been a food I’ve danced around; not deliberately, but as friends swore by kale chips or carried massive fronds through farmers’ markets, I’d find myself distracted by Brussels sprouts sold while still on their stalk or new varieties of apple (or, okay, Anna Tolazzi‘s chocolates; those too.)

I’m happy to report that the naked sprout’s salad was a good introduction to kale. The cashew sour cream swirl on top of the soup was also delicious, lending an almost-citrus-y counterpoint to the rich, mildly sweet flavours of the sweet potato and parsnip. Perfect for warming up after dashing outside to drop off round one of our purchases (say what you will, but potatoes and rutabagas become heavy over time!)

The greenhouse setting was great for taking a break to eat lunch, but also talking with the vendors and other folks as we wandered.

Although the market was busy, we never felt rushed or crowded, and covered in conversation everything from the schematics necessary to make road trips for cheese curds to the politics of organic farming; debated the merits of rainbow trout pate versus smoked salmon (the trout won); and talked truffles and Valentines with The Little Truffle Maker (and her husband, the Big Truffle Maker, who had the best aprons in the Market and wonderful smiles. And dangerously tasty truffles – if you can, sample the Orange Heat!)

It was a busy afternoon, but a wonderful one – if you find yourself in Burlington or Milton (where another Terra market has just started up) over a weekend, it can be a great way to connect with local farmers, chefs, and innovators – and is a welcome burst of colour. Spring’s just around the corner, after all…
Happy wandering!


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